EMANUEL SWEDENBORG is acknowledged today as one of the great thinkers of the eighteenth century and a pioneering figure in the history of Western thought. Described by Jorge Luis Borges as the most extraordinary man in recorded history, Swedenborg’s book Heaven and Hell has had a direct influence on William Blake, Honoré de Balzac, Gerard de Nerval, W B Yeats, S T Coleridge, Fyodor Dostoevsky, C G Jung and many others, and his theory of correspondences is rightly understood as one of the defining influences on Romantic and Symbolist thought. More recently, through the work of Czesław Miłosz, Italo Calvino, A S Byatt and Iain Sinclair, we see his name re-emerge in relation to ‘pyschogeography’, ‘historical realism’ and ‘magical realism’. This short essay offers a perfect introduction to one of Swedenborg’s most important ideas.
GARY LACHMAN was a founding member of the seminal rock group Blondie with whom he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. He has written for numerous publications, including The Independent, The Guardian and The Fortean Times and is the author of numerous books. For the Swedenborg Society he has written Into the Interior: Discovering Swedenborg (2009) which was republished by Tarcher as Swedenborg: an introduction to his Life and Ideas (2012).
For Beyond the Robot: The Life and Work of Colin Wilson: ‘Lachman writes about philosophical and mystical ideas with exceptional grace, forcefulness and clarity’—Washington Post
For The Secret Teachers of the Western World: ‘he manages to make basic concepts in esoteric philosophy and history lively as well as readable’—Kirkus Reviews
‘Lachman creates a history of ideas that fascinates and excites’—New York Journal of Books
For The Dedalus Book of the Occult: A Dark Muse: ‘From the Enlightenment to Modernism, ideas of the occult have shadowed literary culture, and Lachman’s generous primer introduces the main exponents of diverse traditions alongside their more respectable contemporaries’—Scotland on Sunday